With Eddie Jones stating that he may choose to rest some of England’s British and Irish Lions contingent in the upcoming End of Year internationals, as well as the shock inclusion of 18 year old fly half Marcus Smith in a recent training squad, there is much speculation on which uncapped English qualified players may receive full international honours over the next few years. Connor Whittick has chosen 23 players who could be in a prime position to gain England caps.
Val Rapava-Ruskin (Gloucester)
Georgian born, Rapava-Ruskin is one of Gloucester’s biggest signings this Summer, having represented Worcester Warriors last season. A monster at scrum time, the big loosehead will hope to continue his prolific form from last season in a new-look Gloucester front row.
Jack Walker (Bath)
A former England u20 captain, Walker was hugely unlucky with injuries last season after moving to Bath from Yorkshire Carnegie. It is probable that Walker will break into the Bath matchday 23 this year, and Eddie Jones will be closely watching this highly rated hooker.
Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
With Tomas Francis and possibly Harry Williams likely to be representing their national teams in the QBEs this year, this England age-grade pop could find himself playing Premiership rugby this year. An immense ball carrier, Street epitomises the ‘modern’ style of prop, and his performances for England u18 and u20 over recent campaigns won’t have gone unnoticed.
Josh Beaumont (Sale Sharks)
If rumours are to be believed, Eddie Jones sees Beaumont Jr as a lock rather than his preferred position of number eight. With the arrival of Josh Strauss and Jono Ross to the Sharks, it is likely that Beaumont will establish himself as Sale’s starting lock, and will hope to force his name back into international contention.
Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors)
Arguably the most impressive of the England u18s in their successful Six Nations campaign, Hill is a dynamic lock/back row forward, who has also played for England u20. Having already represented Worcester in the A-League, Hill will almost certainly see Prem action this year, and will take confidence after seeing another age-grade lock, Nick Isiekwe, represent England against Argentina this Summer.
Michael Rhodes (Saracens)
Rhodes will become eligible for England in 2018, and Eddie Jones has made his admiration for the South African back row forward no secret. Rhodes started for Saracens in both of their back-to-back European Championships, and will hope to force his way into a stacked England back row. He will hope that, at age 29, Jones will not see him as too old to break into the England setup.
Sam Jones (Wasps)
Named in some of Eddie Jones’s recent squads, Sam Jones is a brilliant defensive back row forward, and is seen by some as a long term replacement for James Haskell for both club and country.
Zach Mercer (Bath)
Mercer’s breakthrough last season was nothing short of exceptional, and with the departure of David Denton, he should see himself get another consistent season of gametime for Bath this year. The England u20 captain looked unplayable during their World Cup campaign in Georgia, and many regard the former Merchiston Castle pupil as the best young number 8 in the world.
Stuart Townsend (Exeter Chiefs)
Townsend’s performance for Exeter in their Premiership semi final against Saracens will have definitely impressed Eddie Jones, and the talented young nine will be contesting with Exeter teammate Jack Maunder for an England birth, potentially replacing an aging Danny Care.
Harry Mallinder (Northampton Saints)
An inclusion in Eddie Jones’s most recent England training squad, Mallinder is a big, versatile back who was one of the only bright spots in what was a very dull season for the Saints last year. He could definitely find himself in the squad for the Autumn Internationals, and his versatility could see him work his way into the matchday 23.
Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins)
The former Trinity School pupil was extremely impressive for England in the recent u20 World Cup competition, scoring some excellent tries (see below) and has captained England at age grade level. Could be competing with fellow Quins academy winger Sam Aspland-Robinson for England honours in the future.
Jonny Williams (London Irish)
Williams broke through into the London Irish set up in the 2015-16 season, and represents many of the qualities Eddie Jones looks for in a centre. A big ball carrier, Williams will hope to have shaken off his injury problems, and could see himself as a potential replacement to aging Ben Te’o and injury prone Manu Tuilagi.
Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
The most likely player on this team to make his debut in the QBEs, Marchant is an agile, rapid outside centre, and his background in martial arts has certainly helped him to develop a very solid defensive game. The comparisons to Jonathan Joseph are inevitable, and Marchant will seek to elevate himself above the incumbent England outside.
Marcus Watson (Wasps)
A recent signing from Newcastle Falcons, Watson will hope to emulate the achievements of his brother, Anthony, one of the stars of the recent British and Irish Lions tour in New Zealand. With a background in rugby sevens, Watson’s pace and ball carrying ability will make him a fan’s favourite at Wasps, and a potential England bolter over the next few years.
Mike Haley (Sale Sharks)
Often name checked and admired by Eddie Jones, Haley is one of many young Sale Sharks backs who will most likely represent England over the coming seasons, and is seen as a long term option at 15 for England, potentially battling Elliot Daly or Anthony Watson for the role.
Tom Dunn (Bath Rugby)
An inclusion in a recent England training squad, Dunn is the second Bath hooker in this 23, having established himself in their match day squad last year. A solid scrummager and dependable ball carrier, Dunn has clearly impressed Eddie Jones, and could find himself in the squad for the QBEs if Jones chooses to rest Jamie George.
Nick Auterac (Bath Rugby)
Another Bath front row who suffered injury problems last season, Auterac’s fitness and pace are very rare for a prop (he conducts his fitness tests at Bath with their backs rather than their forwards), and he will be in contention for England caps over the next few years.
Jamal Ford-Robinson (Northampton Saints)
A fans favourite at Bristol, Ford-Robinson is a young tighthead prop who has been included by Eddie Jones in England training squads, and could be battling with teammate Paul Hill for an England place over the next few years.
Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby)
James Chisholm (Harlequins)
Having represented England Saxons in 2016, Chisholm was instrumental for Harlequins last season, and at the age of just 22 could certainly see himself break into the England setup over the coming seasons. Able to play in any of the 3 back row positions, which will please Eddie Jones.
Harry Randall (Gloucester)
The livewire scrum half has been outstanding for England u20 and Hartpury College over the last season, and with Greg Laidlaw’s departure to Clermont, Randall could be poised to be one of the breakthrough stars of Gloucester’s upcoming season.
Marcus Smith (Harlequins)
The 18 year old was recently included in an England training squad, and Eddie Jones has described him as ‘probably England’s fourth choice fly half right now’. Part of a Harlequins u18 team who were hugely successful in their Premiership victory, Smith also represented the side during their Singha Sevens campaign, and will undoubtedly be a mainstay of the England squad for many seasons to come, should he find first team appearances at Quins.
Sam James (Sale Sharks)
Able to slot in at fly half or either centre birth, James was key for Sale last season, and the club’s signings of Faf De Klerk and James O’Connor should see him pressure taken off his shoulders, allowing him to play his expansive, fast-paced game, which has earned him a place in England squads previously.